David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Philosophy and Social Criticism 32 (1):111-134 (2006)
Ernesto Laclau's theory of antagonism and political identity has been widely celebrated as one of the most promising attempts to apply the lessons of poststructuralism to political theory. This essay argues, however, that this initial promise is not fulfilled. Laclau's attempt to define and analyse the political as such operates at such an abstract level that Laclau is forced to make sweeping claims about the nature of politics and identity that he simply cannot support; and his analysis of the decision that he claims defines politics is an unrealistic one that celebrates violence, and could have the wide appeal it has had only in a political culture that understood freedom as the absence of all constraint, rather than the achievement of autonomy. Key Words: antagonism autonomy decision freedom hegemony identity Laclau the political rule-following Wittgenstein.
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